COMPAS Youth Boost with Bailey Cahlander

Our first of many interviews catching up with past ArtsWork and ArtScope participants who spent a part of their youth working alongside COMPAS artists. Let's see what the experience meant to Bailey who was a participant in 2007.

* Hey Bailey, do you remember how you first became interested in the arts?

I've been immersed in art my whole life. My mom proactively kept crafting materials in her purse at all times to entertain me.  Art and music were always my favorite subjects in school; I felt at peace in those classrooms and with the people in them. 

 *What years were you in ArtsWork – what did you do?

I found out about ArtsWork in 2007 after contacting mosaic artist Sharra Frank on a whim. I sent her an e-mail expressing my love for her work, and how inspiring her pieces were to me as an aspiring mosaic artist, and she directed me to the COMPAS/ArtsWork website, encouraging me to apply. Working for ArtsWork was an adventure for me. My family is from Chaska, so the drive to downtown Saint Paul was my first official experience with navigating rush hour traffic, parking ramps, and finding my way through a city. At the EcoLab plaza, we worked outside in tents creating three mosaic panels for the GoodWill/Easter Seals.  The second year, we created a Dia de los Muertos mirror, and the third year, a mosaic for the NE Minneapolis COOP parking lot wall. 

"Whimsy" by Bailey Cahlander

"Whimsy" by Bailey Cahlander

* How do you think ArtsWork made an impact on you that a “regular” job wouldn’t have?

Having a job as an artist is a unique experience, and ArtsWork helped with ushering in the professional techniques and exposure to the process of creating from beginning to end. I learned very valuable skills that I wouldn't have learned anywhere else, due to their specific focus with mosaics. When I started at ArtsWork, my mosaic process consisted of skimming craft books, and basically doing everything wrong. Sharra gave me the confidence and the knowledge to move forward in art.  

* Besides gaining artistic skills, what did you learn during your time with ArtsWork?

Through ArtsWork, I learned the ability to work with a wide variety of artists; something I'd never experienced before. Before ArtsWork, I preferred to work independently from others because I enjoyed the reflective process it provides. I feel I've gained a valuable skill by working in the ArtsWork groups I was involved with, and can say I'm a more effective, collaborative worker because of it.

Installation by Bailey Cahlander & Maggie Thompson  Photo by Steven Lang

Installation by Bailey Cahlander & Maggie Thompson

Photo by Steven Lang

Recently, I collaborated with Maggie Thompson, another ArtsWork alumni, on a window installation for the Made Here initiative, and found it to be a great exercise in combining vision and skill.

* How did working with a mentor artist (Sharra Frank) affect your choice of education and/or work?

Sharra Frank will always be my mentor, even after having finished ArtsWork. She is an enormous talent, and is highly respected in the mosaic art world (and outside the mosaic art world), and I am extremely lucky to have had her instruction and her continued friendship. 

* What are you doing now?

Currently, I am working at Hennepin Theatre Trust as a Program Associate for the Made Here initiative. Made Here is an urban walking gallery in downtown Minneapolis that fills empty storefronts with artist installations. I work under the Cultural District Arts Coordinator, Joan Vorderbruggen, who is an unbelievably visionary artist in her own right. For Made Here, I develop content, which usually comes in the form of videos (I have a passion for video creation), and also manage the website, social media, and whatever Joan needs assistance with! 

"Chicken" by Bailey Cahlander

"Chicken" by Bailey Cahlander

* Did your involvement with COMPAS play a role in that choice?

COMPAS inspired me to work in an arts-based nonprofit because of the impact it has on the community.  Made Here works in a similar way, which was attractive to me when I was job searching. 

* Where do you hope to be with your work in 10 years?

I would love to be working as a full-time artist at some point in my life, whether that's ten years from now, or thirty... at some point, I will make it happen! My dream is to mosaic a giant exterior wall of a building.